ANU - High Performance Computing Facility upgrade

ClientAustralian National University

LocationANU Campus, Acton

High-performance computing (HPC) refers to the application of purpose-designed computers (Super Computers) comprising large numbers of linked central processor units (CPUs) and related componentry to achieve vastly improved performance. Super Computers are used for highly calculation-intensive tasks in many fields including quantum physics, weather forecasting and climate research. While mostly used in academia, industrial user of Super Computers is growing quickly.

Construction and fitout of the original HPC facility at the Australian National University (ANU) commenced on 7 July 2011 and was competed on 29 October 2012 at a cost of $23M. The project was managed by Shaw Building Group as Managing Contractor. Construction of the facility was intended to provide Australia with a world-class computing facility to be equipped with a Super Computer, the performance of which would rank within the top 500 in the world. Funding for the project was provided by the Commonwealth Government under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy. Speed testing conducted in November 2018 confirmed that the Super Computer, code named Raijin, installed as part of the project, achieved a performance ranking of #130 in the world.

This project, encompasses design, building modification and installation of an upgraded high performance Super Computer to replace the unit installed in 2011/12. The upgrade was design to achieve a ten-fold increase in computing performance. Main elements of the project included technical investigation and assessment of the replacement computer specifications, with regard particularly to the structural adequacy, cooling and power supply capacity of the existing building, design and adaptation of reticulated services, network integration, physical changeover, builders works in connection and programming of the building BMS to improve responsiveness and efficiency. All this was done while keeping the existing Super Computer system operational throughout the project.

Performance testing conducted in November 2019 confirmed that the upgraded computer, code named Gadi, achieved a ranking of #47 in the world, a considerable improvement that has significantly increased the ANU’s international standing in the field. Further tweaking of the system has led to further performance improvements, with the new Super Computer’s informal performance ranking improving to #21 in the world.

 Awards

  • Australian Institute of Building  |  2020  |  Research, Development and Technology  |  Winner
  • Australian Institute of Building  |  2020  |  Building Professional of the Year – Ben Tonkin (Project Manager)  |  Winner
  • Master Builders Association ACT  |  2020  |  Project displaying technical difficulty or innovation  |  Winner